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Coco Gauff has become the first US teenager since Serena Williams to reach the quarterfinals of the US Open in a row

NEW YORK –

Coco Gauff has become the first American teenager to reach the quarterfinals of the US Open two years in a row since Serena Williams more than two decades ago. So the 19-year-old from Florida knows her way out of trouble on a tennis court.

When the second set was gambled away against Caroline Wozniacki in Sunday’s fourth round at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Gauff needed a chance to think things through after suffering two double faults and a stumble that prompted her to do the splits had missed break.

So Gauff turned in the direction of Brad Gilbert, one of her two coaches who was sitting in the front row, babbled almost non-stop and said, “Please stop.” A few minutes later, Gauff said, “Stop it talk.”

That was while Wozniacki won four straight games and managed a break in the decider. And then, just as the game seemed to be slipping away, thanks in part to a series of unforced errors, Gauff improved her shots and broke away. She accumulated the last six games, winning 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 against Wozniacki, the 33-year-old mother-of-two who recently came out of retirement.

“I was frustrated. It wasn’t really aimed at him. I just had to restart,” said Gauff, who was sixth. “At that moment, I just didn’t want to hear anything. I just wanted to think about what I was doing.”

Her next opponent will be defending champion Iga Swiatek or number 20 seed Jelena Ostapenko. Top-seeded Swiatek was due to face Ostapenko on Sunday night after 23-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic met qualifier Borna Gojo.

Gauff, whose best performance at a Major was reaching the final at the 2022 French Open before losing to Swiatek, has now won 15 of her last 16 games.

This run follows a first-round elimination at Wimbledon in July and includes the two biggest titles of her career, at the DC Open and in Cincinnati. It also coincides with the additions of Pere Riba as her full-time coach and Gilbert in what is described as a temporary adviser.

TV microphones have repeatedly picked up Gilbert during games over the past week as he explains his thoughts to Gauff.

Against Wozniacki, the 2018 Australian Open winner and two-time New York runner-up, Gauff tried to find the right balance between being aggressive (which she wanted) and avoiding overdoing it (which Gilbert wanted).

Gilbert’s “reconnaissance reports are pretty accurate,” Gauff said. “Sometimes you have to change things. Today I had to change things.”

It was the hottest day of the event yet, with the temperature hitting 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) and Gauff kept missing the target in the second set, committing 22 unforced errors. But she clearly managed as time went on, with just eight penalties in the final set. Also decisive in the third game: Gauff gained a lead of 11:2 in the winning goals.

“She has always been a great athlete. She always had the backhand, the serve, the fighting spirit,” Wozniacki said. “I feel like right now it all kind of falls into place for her.”

In the third set, when the pitch was covered in shadows, Wozniacki told referee Louise Azemar Engzell it was difficult to see the ball and demanded that the stadium lights be turned on.

“I would really appreciate it,” Wozniacki said.

Didn’t happen.

“She’s back and it’s like she never left,” Gauff said. “It was an honor to be on the pitch with her today.”

Another women’s quarterfinal duel will be number 10 Karolina Muchova against number 30 Sorana Cirstea.

Muchova, a finalist at Wimbledon in July, reached the US Open quarterfinals for the first time by defeating Wang Xinyu 6-3, 5-7, 6-1. Cirstea had not finished in the last eight of a major since the 2009 French Open and reached this round again by defeating No. 15 Belinda Bencic 6-3, 6-3.

At least one American is guaranteed to make it to the semifinals for the second straight year. That’s because No.10 Frances Tiafoe, who made it this point 12 months ago, and unseeded Ben Shelton set up a win-winning quarterfinals on Sunday.

And No. 9 Taylor Fritz made it from the USA in the quarterfinals for a third time – the most since Andre Agassi, James Blake and Robby Ginepri in 2005 – by beating Swiss qualifier Dominic Stricker 7-6 (2) , 6 overwhelmed -4, 6-4.

Tiafoe eliminated Australia wildcard Rinky Hijikata 6-4 6-1 6-4.

In the day’s first game at Ashe, 20-year-old Shelton hit a pair of aces in a single game at 149 mph (240 km/h) – the fastest of any tournament – to secure his debut quarterfinal appearance at Flushing Meadows by eliminating No .14 ​​Tommy Paul with 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

As the game ended, the tank top-wearing Shelton flexed his left bicep while standing under the seat occupied by his father, a former touring pro who now trains Ben, and his mother and sister.

“Pure adrenaline,” Shelton said of those big left serves.

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